Motivation: you're looking in the wrong place
How many times have you waited to feel motivated before doing something?
It is the case for a lot of people that they require motivation to be able to start something. Looking at the keywords searched on Life Coach Directory, motivation has been searched 761 times at the time of writing this. Only three other topics have been searched more than that.
There is a clear desire to feel or become motivated.
The fact is, if we only did things when we were motivated, a lot won't be started let alone accomplished. No matter what your current priority is, you cannot expect to have motivation lined up first, because ultimately there will be days you're not motivated, and you don't feel energised.
Leaders won't always have motivation, but they will understand the importance placed upon leading. Followers will be looking up to them expecting them to inspire, and that inspiration allows them to feel motivated.
If you look at yourself - and developing self-leadership - there is an added importance upon how you ensure you get started. Once you start, the motivation will flow, you may even struggle to stop!
Motivation can be external such as what your reward will be, what will you achieve? Or internally, the feeling it generates within. Motivation has its place but instead of searching for motivation, search for discipline. It is less sexy that motivation, but I believe it is more impactful. Discipline ensures you do what you're meant to do even when you don't feel like it.
Let's look at exercise: the motivation will be the desire for fitness, body image, general health or another motive. However, no doubt, there will be days when you just can't be bothered to exercise. This is perfectly natural - there is nothing wrong with anyone when feeling demotivated.
But, to stay on track and reach that goal you set, each session will play its part. Discipline will ensure you will drag yourself to your exercise, and usually, once you're there your motivation will kick in! The feeling it generates will provide that intrinsic (internal) motivation.
How can you develop self-discipline?
Let's look at strategies of how you can develop self-discipline.
1. Understand and develop your habits
So much of what we do during the day, we do on auto-pilot. Without even realising it, our success could go off track due to self-sabotage.
Habits are crucial to our daily lives; if we had to think about everything we did it would be very tiring! These are programmed over repeated patterns and can be deeply embedded. At first, you don't need to do anything about them, just capture them and understand what triggers them.
Work on the trigger and find ways to ensure the trigger isn't pulled, or ensure the trigger is aimed at a different target for a different result.
I have a habit of going through the food cupboard when bored. Couple this with temptations as below, then it could be a recipe for disaster when working on my fitness goals. I know the trigger is boredom, so I can add to my task list and if a task is boring I add a fun element to it.
2. Plan ahead - clear your path
Making decisions takes up energy. I know, because I have been a pretty good procrastinator, and breaking that habit allows more energy to flow. It frees up time. If you plan ahead you allow your energy to go to what is important at the right time.
Let's say you tell yourself you're going for a run in the morning, but you don't get your running gear ready. You wake up and have a decision to make, then you have to find your clothes. There are obstacles already in the way. Whilst they may not seem big if you're lacking motivation you won't be going for that run.
Get your gear ready the night before, clear your path. When you wake, the clothes are there ready, and it'll be a lot easier to get going.
Fail to prepare, prepare to fail.
3. Remove temptations
Performance = potential - interference.
One or two temptations aren't too bad and can be overcome with willpower, but having to constantly overcome these is going to be tiring work. Eventually, your willpower will subside and your discipline will be severely challenged.
Discipline isn't saying, "I am not allowing myself to eat those cookies", it can be, "I will ensure I am disciplined to not buy them first, or be around them."
4. Fuel yourself right
If you're not putting in the correct fuel, you won't be able to perform at an optimal level.
Eat small meals regularly. Why? If you eat large meals you are likely to end up with a food baby. So your body is then sending blood to your stomach to aid digestion. The digestive process uses up a lot of energy which could be used elsewhere, like remaining disciplined or working on your goals. Those large meals will mean you feel tired, slumped with a can't be bothered attitude!
Or you could be eating sugary foods, meaning you'll have a burst of energy but then be on a comedown, and feel lacking of any energy. The balance is crucial.
5. Go easy on yourself - have fun
I mentioned previously discipline isn't sexy, or doesn't appear attractive, compared to motivation. Motivation brings a sense of feeling good, feeling upbeat and generally having a spring in your step.
Discipline appears the opposite. People generally associate discipline with forcing yourself to do something. Whereas motivation appears something is taking you for an enjoyable ride.
Discipline doesn't need to be beating yourself up for not doing something. Discipline can be enjoyable. If you are really struggling to remain disciplined, then ask yourself is the sacrifice really worth it for what you're wanting to achieve?
Success means there is a sacrifice or a number of sacrifices. You can't do everything, so something or areas of your life may have to suffer.
The question really is, 'What am I willing to sacrifice to achieve X?'
Forgive yourself when things don't go to plan. Otherwise, your energy will be negative and feel a heavy load! Brush yourself down, understand why it did/didn't happen and find new ways to cope!